One of the most important things about any event is the sponsors. For two reasons; first, they’re the ones that supply the funding for your event to even run. Second, your building out connections with future investors or partners for various causes or businesses. So obviously, you want to make sure you knock their socks off with the value you can provide for their sponsorship dollars. The question is, how exactly do you do that?
Typically, sponsorships are broken down into levels. You’ve got your main sponsor, a couple co-sponsors and then various little guys along the way. The financial value of each of these sponsorships is determined by the size of the event, and what you’re providing them in return. The main reason any corporation or business will buy a sponsorship is for exposure. They want to be seen and associated with whatever it is your event is about.
It’s up to you to decide who gets what. Here’s what I’ve seen done in the past from events I’ve been involved with.
Give sponsors time to speak during opening/closing sessions. Usually this is for your main sponsor, or the higher paying people. Exclusivity goes a long way.
Put sponsor logos on any printed material. Flyers, menus, programs, online conference registration, etc. Anything you’re handing out or emailing should have your sponsors logos on it.
Have a sponsor desk where they can place literature and free giveaways. This goes for pretty much any of your sponsors. They’ll all have free swag, and you don’t want to deny them the chance to give it away.
Give them the names/e-mails of conference attendees only if the attendees opt in to have this information shared. That last part is the most important. If you can get this set up correctly for a larger event, it’s a goldmine for businesses.
Permission to add items to attendee welcome/gift packs (stickers, flyers, general sponsor themed swag). This goes a long way because everyone attending loves to get a “goody bag” to take with them, and it guarantees that the sponsors will get noticed. Samples of what their company produces are always smart and appropriate.
Put company logos on signs for rooms, signs denoting different areas of the space, welcome signs, etc. Even for a concert, you can have the stages named after a specific sponsor. Warped Tour this year has stages by Ernie Ball and Kia for example.
Provide additional opportunities at adjunct events (after-parties, sprints, industry specific meetups). If you anchor this right, it can almost seem like you’re going out of your way to provide “bonus promotion” which of course makes you look like the hero in the long run.
Create a Twitter/Facebook account for the event and use that to announce ticket sales, parties, etc. Also tweet about sponsors. The more the sponsor has paid, the more exposure they get on your social networks.
You can get as creative as you want with sponsorship ideas. I’d like to create a list of as many ideas as possible to draw from as a resource. So, my ideas notwithstanding, what have you seen/used to make sure your sponsors are getting the biggest bang for their buck?